'Progressive' Has Meant Different Things Over the Years

Thank you for Connie Tuttle's excellent article on the meaninglessness of political labels (Oct. 25). Perhaps if Hillary Clinton had researched the term "progressive," she would've realized that while some of the original "progressive" positions (women's suffrage) were, well, progressive, progressives were the primary supporters of prohibition. Teddy Roosevelt, the greatest progressive president, basically invented pre-emptive war.

Kiel Ireland

Serraglio Was Wrong to Attack 'Context Sensitive Solutions'

I am writing in response to Randy Serraglio's attack on the Grant Road Improvement Plan (Guest Commentary, Oct. 4). I have worked closely with the Grant Road project as a graduate student in planning at the UA and with the Besst Trendss network of local community-development professionals concerned with equity and social justice.

Serraglio inanely criticizes Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS). Historically, transportation projects focused solely on moving cars. Context and the voices of citizens were rarely considered, and many projects led to neighborhood disintegration. The city should be applauded for attempting to adopt the CSS process to focus on issues like sustainability, citizen involvement and alternative modes of transportation.

As Serraglio asserts, the widening of Grant Road to six lanes is inevitable. However, that is the only inevitability. A series of community conversations are ongoing so the community's voice is heard and incorporated into the upcoming technical decisions. I attended a lively and productive community conversation at the packed Ward 3 office. If Serraglio had attended, he would have heard citizens talking to the city about all of the concerns he raises.

The city is asking citizens to speak out now. We have the potential to create a new and improved paradigm for development and transportation that will have long-lasting impacts.

Jay Young
Executive director, Besst Trendss

Fact Check: Neighbors Did Oppose Sawtelle Residence

I read with particular interest your article "Building Green" (Visual Arts, Oct. 11). Since I am one of the neighbors of the structure called the Sawtelle Residence, I was surprised to read that the "neighbors didn't mind." I have come to expect misrepresentation from the team of Sonya Sotinsky and Miguel Fuentevilla, but it was still surprising to read this.

The neighbors did object to the building of this structure. Several of us went to the city before construction began to voice our concerns: the questionable lot split; the public access/fire lane is too narrow to allow a fire truck to pass, which places the surrounding homes at jeopardy; and the fact that they do not use their legal access way, but instead use the fire lane. (Their legal access is physically blocked.)

The structure is built in a manner which allows the occupants to peer down into their neighbors' homes and yards. The designers showed no regard for the historic character of the surrounding homes.

I also question the "green-ness" of this project. At one point, the team of S/F placed an irrigation system and plants along a portion of the public-access road. At night, when the system came on, it produced a fountain of water that flooded the public access road and my driveway.

I don't object to "infill" per se, but the manner in which this project was conducted was clearly not "wonderful" for the neighbors.

Denise Holzman

City Dropped the Ball in Sawtelle Residence Dealings

As a neighbor of the Sawtelle Residence, I must take issue with statements by Sonya Sotinsky of FORS Architecture. She is quoted as saying that ... lower-slung neighbors (one story) didn't mind the obstruction of our view and maintains that we (neighbors) "were wonderful." Nothing could be further from the truth.

I aim to offer several issues that were not mentioned. 1) As I understand it, Sotinsky purchased the entire lot and existing residence on Sawtelle without fully disclosing her development plans (lot-split and construction of a second two-story residence) to the long-time owners. 2) Her shameless attempt to have the neighbors agree to "sign off" on her attempted annexation of the only access--a public right of way fire-access alley that borders the residence, and is now the residence's primary access--was baffling. 3) Neighbors/stakeholders were not even aware that the original lot was to be split or that a two-story residence was to be constructed. Our calls to the City of Tucson Development Services Department got the runaround. When we contacted the city on it, they began scrambling to investigate the supposed required City Council approval for the lot split. 4) The Sawtelle Residence is located in the Blenman-Elm historical neighborhood. The design is not consistent with the adjacent 1930s residential architecture. 5) Due to neighbor safety concerns, the city's Fire Prevention Department was contacted. The fire department was unaware that a construction permit had been issued.

We do not appreciate what appears to be a two-story office complex that has been labeled "green" invading our privacy, nor do we appreciate the designers publicizing the residence with highly inaccurate statements about how "open-arms" the neighbors were.

Mike Mahan

Sawtelle Residence Designers Treated Neighbors With Complete Disregard

We were fascinated by "Building Green." As neighbors, we were taken quite aback to read that "the neighbors didn't mind" the view-blocking second story of the dwelling in question. Those in the two-story condo complex to the west may not have had a problem; however, other neighbors minded quite a bit.

The lot on which the Sawtelle Residence was built had until several years ago belonged to a lovely couple who had lived there for decades. As they aged, they reluctantly decided to sell the house to architect Miguel Fuentevilla and his partner, Sonya Sotinsky, of FORS Architecture + Interiors.

The Sawtelle Residence is sliced off from the backyard of the original house (which is not to the north, as stated in your article, but to the east), but is neither small nor a guest house. Instead, it is a modern monstrosity which impinges upon the privacy of the neighbors to the north. "Openness and vistas" may be important to the client, and the wall of windows in the long north façade of their second-floor aerie must give them lovely views of the Catalinas--but unfortunately, it also gives them direct views into the neighbors' back yards.

Although we might have been less than thrilled with the fact of the Sawtelle Residence, in any case, we objected primarily to the design of the house and the behavior of Mr. Fuentevilla and Ms. Sotinsky. They behaved with complete disregard for the former homeowners, the current neighbors and the historic character of our lovely neighborhood.

Marcy and Raul Islas

'Weekly' Political Coverage Has Been Impertinent

I sure wish the Weekly had done a decent interview of Dave Croteau, the Green Party candidate for mayor, and John Kromko (Proposition 200) as well. Those little pieces by Jim Nintzel may have been slightly amusing to a few, but they were certainly not informative and were not useful to anyone.

I am very disappointed that the Weekly did not take its responsibility to seriously inform their readers on important political matters such as the ones I mentioned above.

For a person like myself who looks to a local, nonmajor weekly newspaper to print meaningful information about the local community, the Weekly has become pretty much impertinent.

Jack Strasburg